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Thinking of Promoting a Salesperson to Sales Manager? Think again.

It is a common practice in sales organizations to take your best salesperson and promote this individual to a sales manager. After all, if a salesperson is always exceeding quotas, can you imagine what this person can do if they ran an entire sales group? Seems like a great idea, right? Wrong. There is a psychological gap that must be crossed first if that new manager is to succeed. If you assume that your top performer can make that leap it is  more often than not a mistake.

Being a salesperson and a sales manager is much farther apart than most people think. The Sales person is an individual contributor with an individual mindset. A sales manager, on the other hand, must produce top line revenue through the salespeople and must have skill in at least 3 critical competencies: Accountability for the teams results and holding them accountable for those results, Coaching on a regular basis with each individual sales person and Motivating them; For example it would be important to know how strong a coach that manager-to-be will be and does he/she do the following:

Not to mention ongoing recruiting, creating an overall sales plan for multiple sales representatives, making sure the salesperson is paid correctly, conducting sales training and whatever else is deemed necessary by the company. Oh, and did I mention onboarding the new salesperson?  This should be a 90-day process, not just a one-week slam dunk. How many sales stars do you know that would find this fun?  Needless to say this list of responsibilities is very different from the salesperson who has the sole responsibility of achieving a sales quota only through his/her own efforts and developing new business. I’m sure you can see the big difference here.

Here is another example. How often do the best professional athletes go on to be the best coaches, trainers, or managers for sports teams? In the game of golf, for instance, there is virtually not a single coach who was a champion golfer. It happens once in a blue moon, but it is certainly the exception. Some of the best managers in sports have actually been poor athletes themselves. Sales management is no different.

If you are a salesperson aspiring to be a sales manager, there is nothing wrong with your goal. You must remember, however, that the waters you are going into are much different than being a salesperson. To want the glory of the new title is not enough, and we’ve seen that for many sales people, the prestige of being a manager is what drives them to want to manage others. But it has little to do with what is in store for them. To a certain extent, it isn’t glamorous at all and most importantly, you will be leaving your sales career behind and even some really big earning potential. After all, the focus on your new title is “manager” and not “sales”.

If you are a Sales VP or owner of a company and you want to learn whether or not your top salesperson will stand a chance of being an effective sales manager, there are assessments designed specifically for this purpose. They will tell you if the salesperson has that manager mindset; do they have as part of their “DNA” the ability to hold people accountable, coach each person and motivate them and spend significant time recruiting.  There is nothing worse than losing a great salesperson only to end up with a bad or mediocre sales manager. Let’s face it, if you move full speed ahead without using predictive talent analytics to tell you if you are making the right decision, not only does the team get a crappy manager but that once great salesperson, now turned crappy manager, probably won’t want to be “demoted” back to salesperson.  The end result is that he/she is likely to leave your company rather than face the embarrassment of going back to sales. It is too expensive to take a chance without having some real evidence that there is a chance of success. So assess, don’t guess.  You’ll sleep better too if you take our advice.

Sales Hack contributed by Barbara Spector, Founder and President of SmartMoves. Sales Development Expert, Sales Trainer and Assessment Specialist

For the last 18 years Barbara has watched companies hire, promote then have to fire people who were not a fit to the job simply because the hiring manager didn’t have sufficient empirical information on the front end of the process to do it right.  Barbara’s mission has been to help corporations take the guesswork out of this costly process, thereby saving hundreds of thousands of dollars and sleepless nights, by providing Predictive Talent Analytics that improve hiring accuracy to 92% in sales organizations.  Additionally, she is a Sales Development Expert and conducts extensive evaluations on existing sales teams as well as provides a powerful sales training that is conducted over the course of an entire year, as opposed to the typical weekend-long fire hose approach.  She is also a colleague and trainer in Lou Adler’s Performance Based Hiring system out of which SmartMoves has built complete hiring strategies for companies nationwide.